Key Strengths and Weaknesses of a Leader

Leadership Advisory

If you’re familiar with the impact of positive psychology, you know how important it is for leaders to identify their strengths and use them to their advantage.

People tend to apply more of their capabilities when they play to their strengths, and this concept extends to the workplace. Employees and those in a leadership position, in particular, are generally more efficient and motivated in the workplace if they feel their strengths are emphasized in what they do.

Successful leaders implement strategies and explore new ways of improving and maximizing their strengths to compensate for their weaknesses, effectively optimizing their leadership skills.

To be a successful leader in today’s corporate climate, there are several essential leadership traits to take note of and apply to exceed in any field.

Whether you’re looking to identify your leadership strengths or develop them to greater extents, the key leadership strengths and common leadership weaknesses listed below will serve as a valuable guide for the areas that deserve the most attention in your career.

Key Leadership Strengths


Self-awareness is one of the key leadership strengths those in a leadership role must develop to reach their potential. Self-awareness refers to the ability to surveil their own emotions.

When you practice self-awareness, you are allowing yourself to react better to particular situations without your emotions playing a big part in your response. Self-awareness effectively prevents unnecessary conflict from occurring, as you have the tools you need to handle any situation in a professional and controlled manner.

This leadership strength will promote respect in the workplace because your employees will recognize total control of your emotions and impulse, and you will ultimately lead by example.

Becoming a good leader is a continuous process, and many leaders consistently strive to improve their leadership skills. Self-awareness is a great way of doing that by reflecting back on your own shortcomings and identifying areas that need improvement.

Team leaders who do not practice self-awareness often present themselves as entitled or arrogant. Team members find it challenging to build a solid professional relationship with a leader that is not aware of how their reactions are affecting others.

Self-awareness promotes critical thinking and the development of boundaries. An effective leader will utilize self-awareness to alter their leadership style according to what the team needs to thrive.

For instance, a team that is under a lot of pressure will perform better when they feel their leader provides them with the encouragement and support they need; insight leaders gain by being self-aware.

Self-awareness is an essential characteristic that helps individuals live up to their potential in a leadership role.

Tips to help leaders practice self-awareness:
  • Stay open-minded and objective
  • Keep your focus on the main goal
  • Get a good grasp on your own strengths and weaknesses as a leader
  • Acknowledge any emotional triggers you may have
  • Continuously encourage constructive feedback from the team
  • Work on your self-discipline

Situational Awareness

Situational awareness is a fundamental leadership strength and requires you to look outward and observe the dynamics of every situation. Self-awareness and situational awareness go hand in hand, as a good leader must conceptualize every situation and look within themselves to find the best way to handle it, considering their strength and mitigating their leadership weakness.

Situational awareness goes beyond leadership skills and can better be described as a mindset. Developing situational awareness allows you to keep a strong mindset and view the situation at hand in the big picture.

Understanding why certain situations arise and identifying the best course of action will help you choose the best tactical approach to drive the company toward its goals. Situational awareness also helps you predict potential issues and opportunities that may arise in the future.

If you are in a leadership position, you can be sure that your every word and action is put in the limelight, and the lack of situational awareness can severely diminish your ability to lead. Effective awareness of every situation allows you to plan and prepare for future encounters, and well-developed situational awareness is a clear indication of a great leader and an intelligent thinker.

Tips on how leaders can develop their situational awareness:
  • Improve your attitude toward any situation
  • Allow enough time to reflect on every situation before reacting
  • Connect with your colleagues and peers regularly
Key Strengths and Weaknesses of a Leader Key Strengths and Weaknesses of a Leader

Good Communication Skills

Excellent communication skills are a crucial quality in an effective leader. Your success as a leader and the company’s performance relies heavily on your ability to communicate effectively with your team.

Across all the different leadership styles, communication remains a constant, and effective leaders must be able to analyze various relationships and audiences to communicate most constructively.

A good leader will need to handle the substantial influx of daily information and think clearly about every interaction between employees, partners, customers, influencers, and stakeholders in order to improve their decision-making skills.

Effective leadership requires intentional and purposeful communication, and the art of knowing how and when to convey a certain message is the challenging part. Good communication is pivotal to aligning interactions with goals to gain trust and inspire motivation and change.

A bad leader often lacks sufficient communication skills, which leads to misunderstandings and misinformation. Good communication is one of the most important leadership strengths and can ensure a cooperative team that functions in the absence of detrimental conflicts.

If you can effectively communicate how you expect team members to perform while considering the needs and concerns of every team member, you can create an environment where every employee feels heard and driven to work toward a common goal.

Communication goes both ways, so a leader that invites team members to speak openly and receive responses with a clear mind will promote employee development and increase employee morale.

Tips for leaders to develop their communication skills:
  • Listen intently to every team member
  • Present yourself as genuine and authentic
  • Assure your team they can approach you with any concern
  • Encourage your team to deliver the best possible input
  • Affirm your team with actions

Efficient Negotiation Skills

Good negotiation skills enable great leaders to deal with a wide range of situations more effectively. From mediating challenging situations to negotiating the terms of a contract, every company needs a leader that includes negotiation skills in their list of leadership strengths.

An effective leader will approach a negotiation with the goal of understanding the interests and needs of all the parties involved to come to a satisfying agreement. A good negotiator will find common ground between different parties and manage any potential conflict that might arise. The leader will see the big picture of the negotiation and think in terms of long-term implications.

The negotiation skills required in various situations will depend on the environment and the desired outcome. A leader will need to adapt their negotiation style according to the situation at hand, whether it is direct reports or engaging with executive managers.

A leader must be able to keep an open mind and abandon bias and egoistic elements when negotiating. This ties in with self-awareness in that you need to manage your emotions and view the situation in an objective manner.

An impartial approach will ultimately lead to better decision-making and problem-solving skills, which result in easier negotiation. Just as with leadership, the success of a negotiation depends on your ability to consider all the essential elements of the situation and react according to what will yield the best results for the organization.

Tips for leaders to improve their negotiation skills:
  • Keep an open mind and manage your emotions
  • Set the bar higher than you expect the result to be
  • Welcome all thoughts and ideas openly
  • Stay true to your commitments
  • Be the first to put down an offer, if possible
  • Set clear expectations
  • Terminate the negotiation once a deal is made

Excellent Conflict Resolution Skills

When two or more parties’ interests don’t completely align, conflict occurs, and one of the most crucial leadership strengths is knowing how to resolve that conflict in the best way. Conflicts arise due to several factors, including any person’s beliefs, biases, values, and social status.

Every organization experiences conflict in one form or another from time to time. Conflict is not necessarily bad, as it often allows individuals to bring creative ideas forth and share their perspectives, broadening the field of innovation.

Conflict in the organization is not a good or bad thing. Instead, it is a necessary occurrence to aid in developing strong relationships between teams and individuals. The important thing is that the conflict is handled in a way that facilitates productivity. Your leadership style and how you navigate conflict determine whether it will be a constructive process.

To become a better leader, you must approach conflict with a patient and attentive attitude so you can identify the root of the issues and suggest mutually beneficial solutions so the situation won’t spin out of control.

Conflict resolution skills are valuable tools that help leaders to lead a discussion to the point of resolution that all parties are satisfied with. Leaders must remain objective and mediate the situation to achieve unification instead of division.

One of the most advantageous leadership skills includes being able to lead a team to follow in your footsteps by modeling positive conflict resolution skills to ensure harmony in the workplace.

Tips on how leaders can develop their conflict resolution skills:
  • Be open and receptive to all concerns
  • Be honest and candid about the issue
  • Listen attentively to each party
  • Recognize constructive behavior and reward it appropriately
  • Take note of biases
  • Invite all parties to share their perspectives
Key Strengths and Weaknesses of a Leader Key Strengths and Weaknesses of a Leader

Intercultural Sensibility and Collaboration Skills

A leadership style that promotes collaboration goes a long way in bringing a team together and giving them access to various perspectives and information. Members of a team feel included and considered when leaders take a collaborative approach toward the team’s ideas and feelings.

A collaborative leadership style encourages a team to stay engaged and committed to its goals. Employees are typically inclined to invest more energy and effort when they feel their leader cares about them as human beings and appreciates their individual qualities.

To create a strong team dynamic, strong leadership traits involving acceptance and appreciation of different people are required. A leader’s collaboration skills include listening and accepting others and establishing a clear vision for every individual based on their capabilities.

To achieve collaboration, a sound leadership style involves having a bottom-up approach, meaning the team members get the opportunity to propose their ideas and have a say in the direction of every project instead of just receiving instructions from the managing leaders, which may result in lopsided leadership.

Collaboration skills and intercultural sensitivity are two closely-related topics, and one cannot be reached without the other. Both concepts relate to a leader’s ability to view situations from different perspectives. One of the key leadership strengths required to achieve cultural sensitivity and collaboration skills is open-mindedness and an accepting nature regarding various viewpoints and backgrounds.

Tips on how leaders can achieve collaboration and sensitivity in the workplace:
  • Always communicate honestly and openly
  • Encourage feedback and listen to team members
  • Give teams access to valuable information
  • Encourage teams to speak their minds
  • Learn from past mistakes

Work With Varying Approaches and Personal Styles

Being in a leadership position entails the responsibility to connect teams and employees. This required adapting your communications and leadership style according to different people and perspectives.

A leader needs to know and understand their employees and grasp their behaviors and work styles. A good leader can alter their leadership style according to the situation and the people involved. This leadership strength requires a great deal of intuition and social skills, so it may not come naturally to all leaders.

The key factor is to create an inclusive environment where teams have a safe space to collaborate and build strong relationships.

Tips on how leaders can improve work culture by adapting to different personal styles:

Making Difficult Decisions

Most leaders find the decision-making aspect of leadership very challenging. Any decision will likely benefit some more than others, and a leader’s decisions can have significant implications, so it is a major responsibility.

Successful leaders have the skills to make tough decisions in difficult times and the courage to embrace the challenge and display their leadership strengths.

A sign of a strong leader is a team that trusts their leader to make the right decisions in uncertain situations. A leader needs to have confidence in their abilities and encourage strength instead of doubt among their team members.

Tips on how leaders can improve their decision-making abilities:
  • Stay informed about all aspects of a situation
  • Limit the deciding factors involved in making a difficult decision
  • Set deadlines for decisions
  • Exclude yourself entirely from the equation
  • Spend less time on small decisions to reduce fatigue

Develop Leadership Style and Strengths

Leadership strengths are crucial for every person in a leadership role. A leader needs to have a good understanding of employee behaviors and different reactions to situations. Beyond the ability to navigate their employees’ behaviors, a leader needs to develop their self-awareness to a great extent.

If you continuously develop these leadership traits, you will be in a better position to work on any leadership weakness and handle difficult situations. Across all leadership styles, confident leadership is essential to the success of a team.

Key Strengths and Weaknesses of a Leader Key Strengths and Weaknesses of a Leader

Leadership Weaknesses

Leadership weakness is not meant to be a shameful topic but should instead illuminate areas that need improvement to develop better leaders. Therefore, every leader must know their leadership weaknesses so they can create sound and concrete strategies to improve lacking areas.

Leadership weaknesses come in many shapes and sizes, but fortunately, no weakness is too significant to turn into a strength. So don’t get stuck in the problem but focus on finding a solution that will ultimately make you a strong and confident leader.

Self-reflection is just as important as feedback when it comes to leadership weaknesses. Not only should you be able to assess your reactions and behaviors if you suspect poor leadership, but your team and employees should have the freedom to share constructive criticism to help you develop your leadership skills.

Common Leadership Weaknesses

The Need to Be Liked

A common leadership weakness is a leader who needs the approval of others. If you focus on whether or not your team likes you as a person, making tough decisions will become a big challenge.

It is important to realize that not everybody is going to like the decisions you make, and there is nothing wrong with that, provided they feel heard and understood in their reasons.

When this leadership weakness is put to the test, the best practice is to assess how you can consider all employees and still make the best decision for the company. Feedback systems and performance reviews are a great way of taking all thoughts and perspectives into account and finding common ground with employees who don’t necessarily agree with your decisions.

Regardless of your approach, a leader must take the direction that benefits the company without the fear of retaliation or controversial opinions.

Lacking Emotional Intelligence

The lack of emotional intelligence is the root of many problems in the workplace, and leaders who don’t have emotional intelligence often don’t have the ability to understand and consider the emotions and perspectives of their teams, which leads to insensitivity and neglect.

This common leadership weakness can be improved by gaining a sense of understanding, sensitivity, and empathy toward team members, so they feel like they are heard. Although it is not a leader’s responsibility to get involved in an employee’s personal life, having insight into their situation does aid in understanding why they act the way they do.

A leader’s involvement in every employee’s personal and professional development plays a significant role in their performance as a leader, and a person can easily lose respect from their peers if they disregard the emotional aspect of the workplace environment.

Leaders must consider the impact constant criticism and overwhelming negative feedback have on their employees’ emotional well-being and explore constructive ways of communicating with their teams.

Effective leaders generally have a high emotional quotient. They know how to manage the emotions of others. Hence, everyone feels acknowledged, which is more important than ever since emotional well-being has become a significant priority over the last few decades.

Blame Shifting

Leaders who constantly put the blame for failures on others tend to be reluctant to accept feedback and change their ways.

Blame shifting is a common defense mechanism used when someone doesn’t want to own up to the part they played in a failed mission. A leader must take responsibility for their actions instead of blaming other managers and employees for their own faults.

Instead of acting out of fear of taking accountability, a leader must accept that no one person is to blame, and the important thing is getting back on track and keeping the team united.

Poor Delegation

An inability to delegate means you don’t trust others to complete a task correctly. A successful leader trusts their team with all their duties and doesn’t feel the need to interfere and criticize every step of the process.

Although it is vital to guide your team, they are put in their roles for a reason and should be trusted to fulfill their duties. There is such a thing as being too controlling, even if your role as a team leader is to control certain aspects of the company. Micromanaging is a sure way to poison a team dynamic and make employees feel incompetent.

Trusting others to complete a task correctly doesn’t mean you are losing control of the situation. It means you believe your team is capable of doing their job, and you are a good leader for letting them prove it.

Not Listening to the Team

Not listening to the ideas and concerns of your team is one of the worst leadership traits that lead to resentment in the workplace.

Whether it is during a team meeting or simply during daily operations, employees often feel disregarded and unappreciated when their leader doesn’t value their thoughts as they should. Employees will feel less inclined to give their best and stay dedicated when overlooked and taken for granted.

Allowing your team to share constructive feedback instead of reacting with a disrespectful attitude is pivotal to creating a healthy workspace that enables every employee to grow and improve specific skills.

An open and accepting work environment allows team members to collaborate with those who have complementary strengths to their own, which ultimately ensures a productive, strong team dynamic.

Keller possesses the essential tools, resources, and methodologies required for assessing leadership capabilities in both internal staff and external candidates. Connect with Keller to ensure your organization identifies and nurtures top-tier leadership qualities.